Immigration and Migration Updates

Posted by Charles Middleton on 03/07/2018

Q: What does President Donald Trump mean by “Chain Migration?”

A: He is referring to “family immigration” as “chain migration” while advocating for a reduction in the amount of family immigrant visas currently authorized by law.

Q: What does U.S. law now provide for the reunification of immigrant families?

A: Reunification of families has been a mainstay of U.S. immigration law and policy for many generations. Before any alien can obtain U.S. citizenship they must first have attained “green card”/permanent U.S. residence status. Immigrant visas (green cards/permanent residence status) are available to aliens who usually qualify under two main categories. One is family based. The other is based on employment. There are several additional smaller categories (e.g. asylum, national interest, investments, etc.). Each category is normally limited by an annual quota. Every year 226,000 immigrant visas can be issued to aliens based on a specified family relationship with a U.S. citizen or green card holder. These are known as "Family Preference Categories." The very closest family members are considered “immediate relatives” under current law. As such, they are exempt from normal annual quota restrictions. Immediate relatives include the spouses of U.S. citizens; unmarried minor children (under 21) of U.S. citizens: and parents of U.S. Citizens (petitioner must be 21 or older to petition for a parent).

Q: Besides immediate relatives, what additional family members can be sponsored for green cards?

A: They have to fall within one of four family preference subcategories. First, unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; second: spouses and children, and unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents; third, married adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and fourth: brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.

Q: How must a sponsor show a family member isn't likely to become dependent on the government, or a “public charge?”

A: Every sponsor, for any family member since Dec. 19, 1997, must sign a binding contract with the U.S. government (Affidavit of Support). It must show the sponsor, and when necessary, any co-affiant has reasonable financial resources and it makes them liable for repayment of certain welfare benefits, if any, received by the intended immigrant family member. This support liability exists until such family member either becomes a U.S. citizen, or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years).

Q: What has President Trump said about current U.S. family immigration?

A: The president was referring to chain migration in his State of the Union speech when he said, "Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives." The president's remark was misleading. This is primarily because it would imply to many that legal permanent residents (“green card” holders) and/or naturalized U.S. citizens combined legally can sponsor many other relatives for green cards (e.g. uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, etc.).

Q: How would the president like to reduce the amount of family-based immigration?

A: President Trump wants to limit family-sponsored immigration to only spouses and minor children of citizens and green card holders. This would end categories for adult children, siblings, and parents of U.S. citizens and for adult children of legal permanent residents. The public and Congress are sharply divided on the types of changes President Trump is advocating, based on a recent opinion poll along with Congress' failure to pass any of four recently debated immigration bills.


Published The Oklahoman, March 7, 2018